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The FooDorama Challenge: I Watch It, I Try It!

(=^・ェ・^=))ノ彡。・∵゜:;,・゜∵: ○ ;,・。∵゜:;,。・゜

Jdorama Inspiration: Shinya Shokudo

Shinya Shokudo (深夜食堂 or The Late Night Diner) is a 10-episode drama that was shown past midnight on TBS and MBS for the Fall Season of 2009. As its title suggests, the drama takes place in a unique, night-shift diner in one of the alley-ways of Tokyo’s busiest municipality, Shinjuku.  The dimly-lit diner is run by its cook who goes only by the name of  ‘Master’ (played by Kobayashi Kaoru). He opens the diner from 12 midnight up to 7 am with a menu that offers goodwill and just one dish – tonjiru (pork and vegetable soup).  If a customer wishes to order something else, the Master will whip it up only if he has the ingredients available.  The stories told in this drama are those of the customers that patronize this humble eatery.

‘Master’ Class: Kobayashi (left) plays the enigmatic, unnamed cook in this drama based on a manga by Abe Yaro

I was very well-impressed by this drama’s low-keyed simplicity and quiet charm.  Since the diner opens only during the wee hours, it would naturally attract a few but interesting characters as its customers – mostly the city’s nocturnal creatures who work the graveyard shift (a yakuza boss, a stripper, a newspaper delivery boy, a male porn star, etc.).  The warmth and calming atmosphere of the diner is set against the contrasting backdrop of night-time Shinjuku’s cold, lonely and impersonal concrete milieu, so it was natural that these customers would find refuge in it.  And what gives this drama its stroke of genius is the menu – or rather the lack of it. Since a patron can ask for a simple dish (if the Master has the means to make it), he or she orders a favorite comfort food which in turn conjures up repressed or forgotten memories of family, lost friends or past loves that basically inspires the character to remember what was once lost or left behind, deal with regrets or seek a sense of personal closure as well as fulfillment.

With scenes accompanied by Suzuki Tsuneyoshi’s haunting song “Omoi-de,” Shinya Shokudo is an introspective drama that despite the differences in language and culture, it proves that there is something universal about the topic of food that we could all connect with.

Just like the food it features, the drama stimulates feelings of comfort and good vibes.  It is one of the best yet seemingly underrated jdoramas I’ve seen so far (and rightfully deserves a second season, too).

Jdorama Food: Japanese Comfort Food

Comfort food pertains to “foods consumed to achieve some level of improved emotional status, whether to relieve negative psychological affect or to increase positive.”  They can be simple dishes that could be home-cooked (sandwiches or soup) or bought from a store (ice cream). For me, the idea of comfort food is something that can be easily prepared anytime, usually made up of left-overs and satiates those annoying hunger pangs that creep during ungodly hours of the night, a rainy day or during dvd weekend marathons.

The comfort dishes shown every episode are the real ‘stars’ of Shinya Shokudo (the drama even offers cooking tips at the end of each episode).  They include traditional Japanese comfort food like tarako (cod roe – above left) and ochazuke (rice with green tea – above right); and Western dishes like potato salad and egg sandwich.

The FooDorama Special Challenge: Remembering my own Comfort Foods

This is a special on comfort food – meaning, I will refrain from reprising the dishes featured in the drama since they are just too easy to prepare, does not pose much of a challenge and hence, no need to share recipes.  So instead, for this post, I would like to share my very own simple and personal comfort food experiences…

The FooDorama Connection #1: Nekomanma

In episode 2, an aspiring singer comes to the diner and orders nekomanma (literally means ‘cat food’) which is rice with dried bonito shavings and a dash of soy sauce.  It is a super easy to prepare and makes use of leftovers – particularly rice and fish.

My Counterpart: Rice with leftover Maling bits

LOL… I’m guessing a lot of my fellow Pinoys can relate to this. Maling is a brand name of a Chinese canned luncheon meat widely available locally. It is the poor man’s Spam… well, even middle class folks like it, too.  We did have the occasional Spam but Maling was the canned meat we consumed most often while growing up. Yes, I’ve heard of horrible rumors about this product but it’s cheap anyway, readily available and saves you time.  As long as this unsophisticated, much-maligned fare can help ease hunger pangs and gets you through the day (or night)… Lunok na lang, at wag nang mag-isip ng kung anu-ano…

FooDorama Connection #2: Tamago (or Egg) Sandwich

In episode 7, a young newspaper delivery man would order egg salad sandwich at the midnight diner during his breaks.  The Master would prepare it for him along with extra ham sandwiches.  I had to pause from watching this episode in order to make an egg sandwich for myself. There’s nothing like watching a good drama while having the same food that the characters were enjoying.

My Counterpart: The Tasty Adobo Pandesal

Chances are, every Filipino family may have some leftover adobo inside their refrigerator.  This quintessential Pinoy dish is practical, have a long shelf-life (because of its main ingredient – vinegar) and simply delicious.  I remember living on these when I was on my own in Cebu. Usually accompanied with rice, this dish could be made into a sandwich, using adobo pork or chicken from the fridge, nuke it up, shred it into thin flakes and spread it along with mayo on hot pandesal (Philippine round bread).

The FooDorama Connection #3: Butter Rice

In episode 5 (which is probably my favorite), a renowned food critic who is used to eating expensive gourmet food, drops in and orders a simple dish that reminds him of his happy, worry-free life as a young man spent with a senpai he had admired. The dish is that of butter rice – steamed rice mixed with a dab of butter and a drop of soy sauce.

My Counterpart: Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice)

If I could order something from the Master, it would be this: the simple sinangag or left-over rice stir-fried in oil and chopped garlic, with a dash of salt and pepper.  One of my early childhood memories is watching TV alone and eating fried rice, cooked and lovingly served by my mother. I remember the rice was so good I ate 2 to 3 plates of it without eating anything else – just the fried rice. I also recall feeling contented and happy as any care-free preschooler at that time. That is why after watching Shinya Shokudo, it made me contemplate on how I long for those times, and how I miss my mother, and so, well… I ended up crying like a baby… *sighs*

The feelings attached to one’s own personal comfort food may differ from one individual to another.  Whether to make us remember our moms, or wax nostalgic for those happy youthful times, or simply unearthing lost emotions forced to be buried in exchange for steeling ourselves up as a way of self-protection against life’s harsh realities, enjoying simple comfort food more or less, is a humbling experience that helps reconnect with the child within us.  It’s this simple food that reminds us of things that may mean little to others and yet this is what we treasure for it fills us up (physically and emotionally) even for just a fleeting moment.

How about you… What’s your comfort food?

P.S. This post is dedicated to my beautiful and kind MOM. I miss you so much – and not just because of your fried rice (^^)… Love you always and happy birthday!

~(=^‥^)ノ☆ おやすみニャ。。o.゚。*・★

————————–fodocha

My FooDorama Challenge Links

Coming Soon – FDC#14: Taiyaki (Jdorama Inspiration: Shinzanmono)
FDC#12: Omuraisu (Jdorama Inspiration: Tumbling)
FDC#11: Bibimbap (Kdrama Inspiration: Full House)
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Info Sources: Comfort food (wikipedia); Jdorama (dramawiki)

Jdorama Photo Credits: (MBS, meshiya.tv)

One of the best jdoramas I enjoyed watching was Attention Please (2006, FujiTV).  It stars the talented Ueto Aya, as Misaki Yoko, a tomboyish happy go lucky girl who at first did not know what to really do with her life.  Out on a whim, she decided to become a cabin attendant.  And much to her (and everyone else’s) surprise, she was accepted.  Yoko later finds out that being a cabin attendant is more than just traveling, serving food, and pointing for passengers where the emergency doors are; she learns valuable life lessons along the way that ultimately changes her flighty ways (pun intended), giving her a new and better outlook on life.

From turbulence to stable skies: Ueto Aya as Yoko whose training as a flight attendant changes her from a flighty, head-in-the-clouds punk girl to a happier and level-headed young woman

Working for the service and comfort of other people can be fulfilling and taxing at the same time. Somehow, it can feel like a thankless job, and so we lose passion for it and get burned out. Shows like Attention Please can help remind you the value of hard work, of what you’re supposed to do, and get you back on track. Here are some of my favorite “work quotes” from the show:

On guaranteeing quality for the service you offer: “Sending someone who is not fully qualified in the sky is the cruelest thing one can do to a person.”

On doing your part for the sake of the team: “Please don’t take flying lightly. If you can’t control the cabin, we can’t sit in the cockpit and be at ease.  We all help to fly the plane.”

On learning from your mistakes: “There are a lot of different problems waiting for us which the textbook doesn’t address.  The key to solving these problems is always in front of us.”

And on this note, I would like to say that I chose Attention Please as my next jdorama inspiration for my FooDorama Challenge #7… click here.

Btw, Attention Please is also close to my heart because my niece Pch is also a Flight Attendant.

She had worked for the same airline company as Yoko’s (so i do have confirmation that all those sempai-sempai stuff in the drama? They’re all true!).  I talked about her days as an FA trainee in an earlier post.  She has learned a lot since then, and enjoyed the times she had spent as an FA for one year. That chapter of her life has somewhat prematurely closed but now… another new chapter is about to begin.

My pretty Flight Attendant niece, Pch: the working girl at work (Left)

This post is dedicated to Pch, who will be soaring the skies again soon.  Since she doesn’t have a blog, I will just post pix from some of her memorable Asian trips and travels made possible by her adventures as a glamorous FA, proving that just like what Yoko had experienced, hard work and dedication do pay off…:

Wherever you are, Pch, always soar high, live life to the fullest and keep your feet on the ground… Ganbare and Godspeed. ~~Love from Tita S.

It’s going to be an auspicious year. Anyway, after going through a nightmare such as Ondoy, there’s nowhere to go but up

God is always good to us…  Especially if we make it work (and be kind to others, as a great comedian once said)… Wonderful things will happen.

(^_^)d ~zutto tsuzukete!~

“Because I have to.”

Sometimes, those 4 words are all you need to start kickin’ yourself in the butt to get going…

Just like last year, I started the New Year of 2009 with reflections and a lot of mulling over my plans.  After looking back and rereading that post, I am ashamed to admit that all 3 things I mentioned there did NOT come into fruition. It is soooo embarrassing.

That is why I don’t like mentioning my resolutions or checklists.  You start hating yourself if you can’t follow through. But if I do have to start something, I prefer that no one needs to know about it. Rather than talk about it, I just do it whether it be in a checklist or not. But to publish it here for everyone to see, and not accomplishing any of it in the end? Yikes.

So. Despite my vehemence in coming up with NYRs, I will still do it. Why? Say it with me- It’s because… I have to:

One Step Forward into the New Year: Started my walking program (right pic) to lose these stubborn pounds as part of my NY’s Resolution… again.

1. Losing weight. One of my resolutions last year was to lose weight. Honestly? I really started on an exercise program early last year but had to give it up because I wasn’t losing any pounds. Nevertheless, I jump- started my walking and work-out routine late last year. And I am THRILLED to report that this time it is actually WORKING!  Yay for me!  How many pounds I lost is a topic worth posting some other time.

2. Clean Up! Another NYR from last year was to clean and organize my room, the house, my LIFE! And yes, I wasn’t able to accomplish it. But this time, I FIRMLY resolve to do this once and for all.

3. The Muse is calling! I will go back to drawing and painting. I do plan on going back to the arts someday; I might as well start little by little. Be showing my works here soon. That’s a promise!

4. What else is cooking? I mentioned in my previous post that I will start cooking more this year.  I am no expert in the kitchen but I am so tired of drooling over those dishes I see being prepared at the Asian Food Channel, Travel and Living, etc.  My culinary plans are already underway so I’m not worried about this. Actually, I’m already having fun!

Post Script: Anything related to my studies, I will not mention anymore. If it comes, it comes. It may happen this year or the next, I cannot tell but definitely I will finish my master’s degree... Because I have to.

Kailan ka pupunta dito? Sis texted me from Provident Village. This was before the Big Flood.  I spent a lot of my weekends in the Village but at that time I haven’t been there for over a month, that’s why she was texting me.  I had been too busy at work and needed my weekends to unwind at my own home and be alone – that was why I haven’t visited them at the rented house they were staying in.

Saka na. Di naman aalis yang bahay dyan e, I replied.

Then a week later, Typhoon Ondoy came.

Well, you could imagine my regret.  Ayan tuloy. Di ka na makakadalaw uli – kahit kelan Sis laughingly scolded me.

Sis and Doc have decided to abandon Provident and are staying over at Doc’s family’s house.  The house at Provident – post-Ondoy – reeked of stench (real or imagined) from the putrid mud no matter how much they scrubbed it clean.  In fairness to the brave residents who chose to stay, the village had indeed been washed, cleaned and repaired.  However, even so, there is said to be this gloomy and tragic sentiment lingering in the air – of a haunting allusion of grief and frustration, heavy feeling of sadness, and memories of misery and destruction.  It was even worst at night. And then there is this nagging fear: for how long will one be safe and what if the nightmare happens again – and again?

Provident Village was one of the worst-hit areas when the heavy rains of Ondoy came down. Most of the village is nearest to the Marikina river – nestling dangerously inside its U-shaped path (at right)- thus, the village gets easily inundated once it overflows.

(pic courtesy of Google Maps)

I do miss Provident.  We ALL do. Despite the poor location, it is quite ideally and conveniently located near all the major areas of urban living necessities– the malls, schools and universities in Katipunan, the markets, the church, the tiangges, the plaza, sports complex, etc.  Sis misses the fresh cool wind that permeates the house even in summer time; Paw misses the peaceful silence that pervades throughout the village (Parang buhay probinsya). Levic misses riding his bike through the relatively safe streets. Me? I miss the roof deck of the house…

My most favorite part is the roofdeck. I remember I would go straight up there and enjoy watching the sunset or just eat ice cream…

On the roofdeck, Pawie (above) would sit on the ledge, too, at night and just chillax.  We even camped and slept overnight here under the stars last summer. Too bad, I didn’t take pix of us ‘camping.’ Now, it won’t happen again….

I used to exercise and walk through the streets of Provident Village at night while Levic acted as my bodyguard as he rode his bike.  He and I know the streets like the back of our hands. The scariest part of the village at night was near the village wall that separates it from the river – for it was dark there and lacks street lights, right, Lev?

Every weekend all throughout December, fireworks can be seen from the roof deck. Like this pic of a fireworks display from last Christmas season.  Well, now, no more fireworks viewing from there this year (or from hereon for that matter). Sighs…

What’s to be learned from all these? Not to take for granted what we have. Appreciate the simple things and always be grateful.  It’s better to enrich ourselves not with owning material things but with wonderful memories and life experiences instead.  So let’s build more memories! With new hopes, new dreams, and a positive outlook in life… for there is nowhere to go but up!

To be continued in Life after Ondoy

My sis’ birthday was in July. But due to some reason, I didn’t get to post the birthday vid I made for her here in my blog on that day itself (I presented it in my FB status instead and she liked it).  So even if it is late, I am still publishing even if it is a tad too late.

And so here it is… it has a bit of a history lesson, too, btw. And I chose the song that Joni Mitchell was singing on this vid because she sang it live (as recorded) in Chicago on the very day that my sis was born (which was quite a number of years ago – the exact year of which I shouldn’t mention anymore because I don’t want to drive it in any further).  The song is “Both Sides Now” which is apt for her since she had her share of ups and downs, and in a way, has learned a lot of good lessons along the way. Good for you, Sis!

Disclaimer: I do not own nor am I claiming the rights to the song or some of the pictures used in this vid. Thanks.

Both Sides Now
(Words and Music by Joni Mitchell)
Rows and flows of angel hair,
And ice cream castles in the air,
And feather canyons everywhere,
I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the Sun,
They rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done,
But clouds got in my way.
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
It’s cloud illusions I recall,
I really don’t know clouds, at all.
Moons and Junes and ferris wheels,
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real.
I’ve looked at love that way.
But now it’s just another show,
You leave ’em laughing when you go.
And if you care, don’t let them know.
Don’t give yourself away.
I’ve looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow,
It’s love’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know love, at all.
Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say I love you right out loud.
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I’ve looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange.
They shake their heads; they say I’ve changed.
Well something’s lost but something’s gained,
In living every day.
I’ve looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose and still somehow,
It’s life’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know life, at all.

Even after the floods have subsided, it is not yet over.  Time to help out now…

Donations are being accepted at the Phil. National Red Cross chapter office nearest you. Ours is at ATC, Alabang:

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redcross 001

Go, go go, Pinoy youth power!: Classes are suspended for a week. There is no reason for them NOT to help out now…

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The relief goods ready for distribution: We just hope they will recycle the plastic bags though…

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My donation: With just Php 500, one can buy canned goods, noodles, bottled water, biscuits, soap, shampoo, can openers, candles – at least 5 bags worth of relief goods that 5 families may desperately need right now.  One can buy groceries at the supermarket in ATC, and just drop them off at the Red Cross Office in front, near Nat’l Bookstore.

BTW, medicines are also urgently needed: paracetamol, antibiotics, analgesic, oral rehydration salts, multivitamins and medications to treat diarrheal diseases.

If you do not have any material stuff to offer, you can volunteer in sorting, packing and distributing relief goods.  Just.. help… out.  It’s the least you can do…

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